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What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

If you are experiencing abdominal pain or cramps associated with changes in bowel movements, you could be suffering from irritable bowel syndrome or IBS. IBS is a chronic digestive condition that can be uncomfortable and painful, so it’s essential to get an accurate diagnosis.

At Cochise Oncology, IBIS is one of the gastrointestinal disorders we regularly diagnose and treat.

Gastroenterology Tucson

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) 

IBS is a functional gastrointestinal disorder that affects the small and large intestines. The condition is also known as irritable colon, spastic colon, and spastic colitis. 

IBS is actually a group of symptoms that occur together and may include bloating, indigestion, heartburn, constipation or diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting

Although the cause of IBS is not known, factors such as stress, fluctuations in hormone levels, and food sensitivities can trigger symptoms. Identifying the triggers of IBS will help to minimize symptoms of the disorder. 

IBS is a signal that there is a problem with the function of the bowel, which leads to unpredictable bowel movements. 

IBS can develop at any age and is more common in women than in men. 

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What Are the Symptoms of IBS? 

Abdominal pain and irregular bowel movements are two of the most common symptoms of IBS. People with IBS generally have abdominal pain at least once a week over the previous three months. 

Diagnosing IBS

When diagnosing IBS, our gastroenterology specialist will first review your medical history and symptoms, and perform a physical examination. There are no tests that can diagnose IBS. Therefore, our gastroenterology specialist will make a diagnosis after conducting a series of tests. 

Tests Used to Diagnose IBS 

Lab Tests 

A blood test is done to rule out other conditions, such as anemia and digestive diseases, which have similar symptoms. A stool test is also done to check for blood in the stool or any other diseases or infections. 

Depending on the results of the lab tests, additional testing may be required. Tests may include the following: 

  • Colorectal transit study – shows how well food moves through the colon
  • Computed tomography scan (CT scan) – provides detailed images of the digestive tract
  • Lower GI series (barium enema) – examines the lower GI tract
  • Endoscopy – provides an analysis of the upper GI tract
  • Colonoscopy – examines the entire large intestine

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Treatment for IBS 

Most people with IBS experience mild symptoms that can be managed with diet and lifestyle changes. Dietary changes may involve eliminating certain foods from your diet and taking probiotics to balance bacteria in your digestive system. Managing stress and getting regular sleep are two of the lifestyle changes doctors also recommend. 

More severe cases of IBS are treated with medication to manage symptoms such as pain and bloating.   

There are different types of IBS, so treatment is customized for each patient based on the specific symptoms they are experiencing. 

If you have symptoms of IBIS that are affecting your daily life, it is essential to get treatment because the disorder will worsen if left untreated. 

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